How to Bleach Furniture : Furniture Restoration & General Care
How to Bleach Stains On Furniture
Wood furniture, whether it is finished or unfinished, is easily susceptible to discoloration from water damage. Regular or prolonged exposure to water can cause water stains that appear as black rings or spots. Fortunately, there is a way you can remove these stains even when they have penetrated through the finish on the wood furniture. Learning how to bleach stains on furniture requires the use of a mild bleach called oxalic acid.
Remove the existing finish from the wood furniture.In the area surrounding the water stains, the finish will need to be stripped off. The most straightforward way to do this is to sand the finish away using medium-grit sandpaper. If the water stains cover a large portion of the furniture's surface, you may want to strip the finish from the entire piece of furniture to avoid the difficulty of matching the new finish to the existing one.
Clean away the sanding dust.After sanding, use a dry tack cloth to remove all of the dust from the furniture. Removing this dust will allow you more control over the bleach application and will prevent you from marring the new finish of the furniture.
Mix a paste using water and oxalic acid.Oxalic acid is a mild bleach that is sold in hardware stores, usually in the form of small crystals. In a plastic cup, mix 3 parts oxalic acid crystals to 1 part hot water, stirring until the mixture is dissolved. Do not use a metal container or a metal utensil when making this mixture, as the oxalic acid can discolor the metal.
Apply the oxalic acid paste to the wood furniture.Use a foam paintbrush to liberally apply the bleach paste to the areas where the furniture is discolored. On softwoods such as pine, the mixture will only need a few minutes to soak. Bleaching hardwood furniture will require 1 or 2 hours of soaking.
Wipe away the oxalic acid paste.Use paper towels to wipe away all of the paste after it has penetrated the wood thoroughly. If the water stains remain, you can use a second application and increase the soaking time. Excess paste can be cleaned away by moistening the paper towels with water.
- Note that the oxalic acid will lighten the color of the wood, especially if the wood has been stained a darker color. You will need to try to match this stain in the areas you bleached to restore the furniture's uniform appearance.
- If you are worried about matching the furniture's stain precisely, you can apply oxalic acid to the entire piece. In this case, you can use an equal ratio of water to oxalic acid crystals to make a thin wash that can be easily spread over the entire piece.
- Wiping down the surface with vinegar after removing the paste will help neutralize any remaining bleach. This ensures that any wood stain that you apply later does not lighten in color.
Match the furniture's stain color.Apply a wood stain to the areas where you bleached the water stains away to deepen their color back to the original tint. You can control the intensity of a color achieved with a given wood stain by varying the time you leave it on the wood.
Refinish the wood furniture.The final step after bleaching away the water stains from your furniture is to apply a protective finish. Polyurethane, tung oil, and Danish oil are 3 popular options for finishing wood furniture.
- This technique can also be used to remove stains on wood furniture caused by wine, oil, and many other liquids.
- Like household bleach, oxalic acid is slightly caustic. Gloves and eye protection should be worn when working with the oxalic acid mixture.
Video: how to bleach furniture at timeless arts refinishing
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